If dynamite comes in small packages, then Carmel Koeltzow has blown the Denver community away with her energy, creativity and optimism. The vivacious Carmel graces the Denver art scene with aplomb and her ability to start a conversation with anyone and walk away with a new friend and supporter.
The tiny, mighty and fit “wonder girl” says she thrives on challenge and is committed to achieving a vital and balanced life. She’s a classically trained vocalist, accomplished piano player, devoted student of yoga and a certified personal trainer – hence those rock-hard abs and biceps!
Carmel’s career began as a corporate financial analyst. Because of her longtime passion for the arts, it brought her to a job she loves as owner of the event consulting company – Equinox - Events which works with small to mid-level organizations to develop innovative, cost-effective fundraisers.
Carmel who is known for her fundraising competence, perfect sense of timing, graciousness and generosity, is a 2010 graduate of the prestigious Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) Leadership Arts Program. She is committed to constantly enriching Denver’s cultural landscape, and she also knows about every hot spot in town! (Especially those that are great venues for events.)
Have You Met, Tracy Shaffer, a friend of Carmel says: “I have had the pleasure of working with Carmel Koeltzow, both with Salon du’ Musee and hosting other cultural/philanthropic fundraisers, and she is definitely on top of her game. Carmel has vision, power, clarity of purpose and is able to engage and inspire others to bring their A game.”
Carmel is a collaborator and a connector in a class all her own and says: “It’s all about your experiences and who you really find a connection with.” Perhaps the best way to describe Carmel Koeltzow is when I asked her to give me some words that might describe her. She responded thoughtfully – but with a lighthearted smile: “Intense, passionate and fun; Curious, open and kind; Huge heart; Lust for life; High maintenance… Grateful for each new day and all my many blessings!”
How did you develop such a love of the arts? I think it is in my DNA. I come from a strong Italian and Russian heritage whose cultures are marked by a passion for beauty and the arts. However, I would not have recognized the direct impact of the arts on one’s life had it not been for my parents, my hometown of Chicago and my education. My parents saw enormous value in exposing their children to the arts in all forms. The arts were a constant conversation in our home. We were always listening to or playing music, drawing pictures and creating make-believe. I also grew up in a city whose rich and diverse cultural scene allowed regular access to incredible museums, theatres, music, etc. Our schools’ focus on the arts was also different at that time. The study of art and music were highly encouraged by my educators and prioritized in our curriculum. That may explain why I began playing piano at six, acting at 10 and studied classical voice from early childhood through college. I derived so much joy from those experiences that it inspired my personal mission to bring as much attention to the arts in our community as possible.
You have had a long history of leadership in the Denver Arts community, what is your current focus? I have the wonderful fortune to sit on the Board of Directors of The Curious Theatre Company and to serve as founder and co-chair of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s Marquee Club. I am also working on a few collaborations between local arts groups to see where they can join forces creatively, adapt best practices in their operations and eliminate duplication of effort in their service to like populations. I am pleased to announce that I will be working on the expansion and future development of the Denver Plein- Air Arts Festival under the Golden Triangle Museum District. I’ve also been involved with nonprofit groups such as Excelsior Youth Center, Women's Foundation of Colorado, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, Think 360 Arts, and Arts for Colorado.
You have so many other interests and passions outside of the art world, can you mention a few? In addition to Forrest Yoga - Cycling, Mountain Biking, Snow Shoeing, Hiking, Body Building, Nutrition, Fashion, Fine Dining, World Travel, Family, Friends, Work, Love, Passion and Beauty.
When you were a young girl, what famous woman did you wish you could grow up to be like? Elizabeth Montgomery in Bewitched. I always wanted to wiggle my nose and turn my brothers into frogs.
Are you always so happy and upbeat as you are when you are out in public? Most of the time, except when my kids don’t pick-up their rooms.
In addition to your leadership or board roles with the Curious Theatre, the Denver Center for the Performing Art’s Marquee Club, Chair of Project Angel Heart’s “Art for Life” auction and your extended run as Event Director for the fine art exhibition and sale – Salon D’Arts, you have served on several boards through the years, can you mention a few? The Dallas Women’s Foundation, The 500 Inc., The Junior League of Denver, The David Taylor Dance Theatre and Friends of Warren Village.
You’ve worked closely throughout the years with (now) Governor John Hickenlooper. What are a few of the projects the two of you collaborated on? Among others, in 1997, Governor Hickenlooper and I worked together to form the CultureHaus support group for the Denver Art Museum attracting a new audience of art supporters among the young professionals in Colorado. I also helped the Governor develop and draft his position on education during his time as Mayor of Denver.
What do you consider your best trait? A passionate energy for the things and people I love.
What is a habit you wish you could break? Interrupting people.
We all love Summer, but what do you like about Winter? I love the peace that comes with the winter months. It is a time for reflection and growth; a time to nurture the spirit.
Most people as busy as you run out of energy. How do you step up your game when you need to? I am an avid practitioner of Forrest Yoga and focused breath-work. When things get crazy, I stop for a moment, breathe and try to just take on what is in front of me.
What inspires you to become involved with an event? Who I’d be working with and how much fun it will be is first on my list. However, since my focus is the not for profit arena, I will also look closely at what organization the event serves and its potential to raise money while promoting the group’s mission. I will also evaluate whether the event targets the desired audience and if it makes sense in Denver’s current economic climate. If I work with an organization, I want to make sure I can be successful in helping them achieve their desired outcomes.
What are your favorite words of wisdom or a favorite quote? “Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau
What do you consider your own personal style? Elegant, bold, sexy.
What is your greatest fashion indulgence? Lipgloss.
What have you purchased that you will never part with? My piano.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising my three children to be kind, inspired and happy individuals.
You wear the coolest clothes! Where do you like to shop? Thank you. Eve and Garbarini are two of my favorite local boutiques, but I have to admit to a terrible internet shopping addiction.
With so much emphasis on youth and looking young these days, how does a woman in her 40's, 50's - and up - stay involved, viable and appreciated? I truly believe age is a state of mind. I rarely think about my age, but I feel it is critical to take care of your body and your soul. Eat right, move, stay inspired and surround yourself with fascinating genuine people. Never stop learning. Discover what you love and dig into it deeply and passionately.
What do you think of the people involved in the arts here in Denver? There is a brigade of “unsung heroes” in this town that support the art organizations and make things happen in Denver, more than anywhere else, without asking for much in return. They are just happy to be involved and embracing the cultural community.
What's in the future for Carmel Koeltzow? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? Philanthropically, I am sure I will still be serving on arts boards and advising non-profits on how to raise money and garner more supporters. Personally, I will be an empty nester and look forward to more travel, cooking and time with friends. Professionally, I hope that my new company, Equinox-Events, will have assisted small to mid-sized non-profits in achieving a higher level of financial success and a bolstered community awareness in this great city of Denver.
If you could go back 25 years, what advice would you give yourself? Take more risks and trust yourself.
What do you want to be remembered for? I want people to remember that I had an enormous lust for life and a big heart. I want to be remembered for being a cultural champion, a great friend and a good mother.
This interview is sweet Carmel wrapped up into a neat package. Lucky are those of us whose lives have been graced by her vivacious energy.
Carmel, you are such a hero for CO Arts! xo
I am so happy to see Carmel featured. She is a strong force in our artistic community and a wonderful human being. Great job!
Dear Carmel, what a lovely portrait of you (and great job by budding videographer Joey!). Know you will continue to succeed in all your endeavors! You are one of a kind. Proud to know you.
An extraordinary lady!
Will La Bahn
Kenton and Nancy,
Thank you for writing such a lovely piece. I am truly honored to be featured on Blacktie.